The fact that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir withdrew from the Finlandia event and not a Grand Prix
competition was the good news. The not-so-good news was that their
withdrawal was due to a light muscle strain Moir had sustained in his
I woke up yesterday to the news that Olympic and world ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had withdrawn from the Finlandia competition.
The fact that it was the Finlandia event and not a Grand Prix competition was the good news. The not-so-good news was that their withdrawal was due to a light muscle strain Moir had sustained in his neck.
Every day elite athletes walk a fine line between punishing their bodies during the course of regular training, and risking injury as a result of pushing too hard.
Keeping an athlete's body in top form is the goal of all competitors and in Virtue and Moir's case, it doesn't happen without help. Their secret weapon is a woman named Maria Mountain, the owner of Revolution Sport Conditioning in London, Ont. (www.revolutionconditioning.com)
On a sleepy summer Sunday morning, I made the trek to London from Toronto to catch up with Virtue and Moir and additionally got the chance to see what an important part of their off-ice training looks like.
On most Fridays and Sundays the skaters are in London being put through their paces by Maria.
Why make the two-and-a-half hour trip from their training locale in Canton, Michigan?
One reason is for Maria herself and another is the support she offers the skaters. Maria is as integral a part of their routine as getting their blades sharpened.
What I learned was she tailors their fitness workouts to reflect where they are in the season. She will also do extra things like review videos of Virtue and Moir's new lifts, and tweak their fitness routines accordingly.
According to Virtue, there was another reason for coming to London.
"We are restricted to being in the United States for 180 days per year," she said. "It helps with that but it is also nice to get away from Canton for a little bit and be back home."
In the off-season Maria's goal is to build strength, conditioning and cardio. As a fitness professional with a Master's degree in kinesiology, her focus is on the needs of the high performance athlete.
Presumably, with rest, it stands to reason that Virtue and Moir will be back in competitive form by their first Grand Prix event, the Skate Canada International at the end of this month in Windsor, Ont.
Beyond the Grand Prix season, Moir is eager to welcome the world to his backyard.
"We are so excited to be having Worlds in London, Ontario and we want the city of London to be able to put on a great Worlds and in a strange way we feel sort of responsible," he said.
Virtue, on the other hand, has a slightly different take.
"Sometimes it's hard competing at home," she said. "Staying in the right frame of mind when your house is only five minutes away and you are tempted to be there."
They both agree that the fan support in London is second to none and it is 'amazing' to be able to compete there.
With the Grand Prix season only two weeks away, it's interesting to see the way Moir viewed the upcoming season when I asked him in the summer.
"It's pretty much business as usual [for training]," he said, "And we still want to win another world title."
PJ KwongPJ is a self-proclaimed Word Broker who goes by the motto: I read them. I write them. I speak them. A degree from the University of Toronto studying Modern Languages has been put to good use as a bilingual PA announcer for, among other things, the last 5 Olympic Games, the FIFA U-20 2007 Men's World Cup and numerous international figure skating events since 1993.
Working as a figure skating coach for the last 25+ years led to commentating opportunities from CTV/TSN, ABC, Tokyo Broadcasting, CBC, Fuji TV, Seoul Broadcasting and CCTV among others. CBC has been home to Pj's skating voice, writing and commentary opinions since 2007. She would tell you that although working in skating is where her passion lies; she is the voice of lots of commercial projects, a blogger on her own site, a public speaker and with "Taking The Ice: Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating" a published author. You want opinions? She's got them. Follow her on Twitter to see.